I’ve started a 5-day writing challenge as a way to reorient my relationship with writing. Today was the first day of the challenge and the writing prompt was, “When I walked through the open door…” As I’ve continued to think about this program and this prompt, it struck me that there might be a direct application to my blogging — BONUS! So, here goes.

What follows is a fictional depiction of a refrain I hear so often. I offer it so that if it resonates with you you realize that you are not alone and to say that there is hope for a life that is more congruent with what is important to you at this moment.

As I walk through the open door, my family shouts a warm welcome. They are in the kitchen about to sit down to dinner. I can hear the boisterous chatter as they each share highlights from their day. I am envious of their joy, energy, and connection.

I feel tired and worn down. Work has, once again, gotten the best of me. The endless parade of meetings and emails. The iterative conversations that never seem to lead to a decision. The lack of feeling like any real progress is being made. And it’s only Monday…

I muster the energy to enter the kitchen. My family scoops me into their conversation. Quickly enough, though, they can tell that I am not really paying attention. That I am distracted. Truth be told, I am sitting here thinking about the hour or two of work that lies ahead of me before I can call it a day.

My absence in the dialogue puts a damper on the room. Eventually, the table falls silent with each of us retreating to our own thoughts. We finish our meals, clear the table, and head in separate directions.

Sitting in my office, it hits me that I am allowing these moments of connection to slip through my fingers. I’m jarred by the realization that in a few short years, the kids will be leaving home to launch their own lives. Where has the time gone?

I’ve risen through the ranks, providing for my family, because I thought that was my role. I believed that’s what success looked like. But now I sit here wondering if it’s all worth it.

I close my computer. I close my eyes. Wishing for a different way forward. How can I provide for my family while being engaged with my family?

I’ve heard stories similar to this from so many of my clients. There are these beliefs that society dictates what success looks like; that success means sacrifice; that roles, once defined, cannot be recast. The truth is that success and happiness needn’t be diametrically opposed, nor must you upend your life to achieve it. Small shifts can have seismic effects on your quality of life. The journey begins by imagining what’s on the other side of that open door.